Friday, May 10, 2013

Sprawl: What exactly is sprawl

Saying this neighbourhood sprawls does not seem accurate.

Urban planners like to toss about the word "sprawl" to describe suburban living. Yes, the new homes are being built on former farmland. And yes, someday we may miss that farmland. But, maybe a good argument could be made that there is no more sprawl to be found in suburbia today than went down a hundred years ago in the older downtown neighbourhoods.

I used Google map, satellite view to compare housing density in the old neighbourhoods of London and the new suburban ones. The neighbourhoods that I compared indicated that there is no more sprawl today than in the past.

In fact, in some cases it appears the old neighbourhoods with their huge back yards, big front yards, laneways and wide streets don't seem to be anywhere near as densely built as many newer suburban neighbourhoods.

Clearly, if we are to save our farmland and halt the expansion of our cities, we have to do more than attack sprawl.

For some perspective on the problem, consider this:

Between 1971 and 2011, urbanization consumed an area of farmland almost three times the size of Prince Edward Island. By 2001, about half of Canada’s urbanized land was located on the country’s “most productive farmland,” according to Statistics Canada.

—  source: NDACT 

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